Former Blackwater now in hands of private equity

A consortium of private equity firms has acquired Xe, the controversial private military contractor once known as Blackwater.

Forté Capital Advisors and Manhattan Partners, through its investment holding company USTC Holdings, have acquired Xe Services, the private military contracting company more infamously known as Blackwater.

The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but the New York Times reported the deal as being worth an estimated $200 million. Neither Forté Capital Advisors nor Manhattan Partners could be reached at press time.

The deal will provide USTC Holdings with all of Xe’s training grounds, including the company’s training facility in Moyock, North Carolina, which has trained more than 50,000 US government personnel, according to a statement.

Managing Partner of Forté, Jason DeYonker, has had ties with Blackwater since it was founded in 1997, helping founder Erik Prince with the company’s early business plans and first contracts with the US government, according to a statement by the consortium.

As a result of the deal Prince will sell his equity stake in Xe and the company will subsequently be managed by a board appointed by the consortium. 

The company, once a favoured security contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been a topic of controversy following accusations that Blackwater security guards killed 17 civilians in Baghdad in 2007. Following the incident, the Iraqi government refused to renew the company’s right to operate in the country.

“The future of this industry belongs to those companies with the highest standards of governance, transparency, and performance. Our vision for Xe is to set the bar against which all other companies in our industry are measured”, DeYonker said in a statement.

Financing for the transaction was led by Bank of America Merrill Lynch with Bingham McCutchen acting as legal counsel to the consortium.